Press enter to see results or esc to cancel.

How tuberculosis will affect your UAE visa application

Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the top ten killer diseases worldwide, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the disease. As a reminder, TB is a disease caused by germs (bacteria) that are spread from person to person through the air. TB will typically affect the lungs but can go on to affect other parts of the body, such as the brain, kidney, and spine.

In today’s article by Pacific Prime Dubai, we’ll focus more on tuberculosis in the UAE. In other words, we’ll explore how the UAE government’s visa application policy tackles the issue of TB and provide an in-depth overview of the prevention and treatment of the infectious disease in the emirates. 

Individual solutions banner

Tuberculosis test when applying for a new visa in the UAE

The UAE has always had a strong community health policy to protect its citizens against infectious diseases and potential public health threats. A number of laws have been established to offer protection to the population. For instance, the Federal Medical Fitness Law states that all residents must have a health card or health insurance policy.

In line with this, the UAE’s visa policy also considers applicants’ health conditions. To begin with, foreign nationals need to be free of communicable (infectious) diseases such as TB and HIV to get a work/residence permit. However, there are differences between the emirates. While Abu Dhabi screens foreign nationals to detect pulmonary tuberculosis by chest x-ray, Dubai doesn’t. 

Based on the discretion of the authorities, if the new visa applicant is a member of a diplomatic or consular corps, a direct relative of a UAE resident (including children studying in the UAE under the sponsorship of a school), or a leading investor as determined by the business licensing authority, the applicant may also still be granted residency even if they have TB.

Other medical tests for UAE visas

Other negative medical tests such as syphilis and Hepatitis B are only applicable to the below category of workers, and female workers must also test negative for pregnancy. 

  • Workers in nurseries
  • Domestic workers, including housemaids, nannies, and drivers
  • Food handlers and workers in restaurants and cafes
  • Workers in saloons and beauty centers
  • Workers in health clubs

Tuberculosis test when renewing an existing visa in the UAE

There is also a resolution (introduced in 2016) stating that all resident expatriates must undergo TB screening while renewing their residence visas. Those found with scars or active TB or found having drug-resistant TB will be issued a conditional fitness certificate and be issued a residence visa for one year. 

They will then have to undergo treatment. It is then mandated that they make three visits to preventive health centers for free follow-up treatment until cured. Anyone who fails to comply with the protocol for TB or does not show up at the centers for three consecutive visits will be considered unfit and deported.

Sponsoring visas for family members with TB

For expatriates who are currently living/working in the emirates, it’s also important to note they will now be allowed to sponsor the visas for their spouses, children, and parents who have TB scars and active TB, provided that they are compliant with the aforementioned treatment protocol for TB.

Where to get a medical examination

Medical fitness/examination centers are located across the UAE, including Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah. Medical examination centers enable an expatriate to obtain a certificate of good health following a fitness examination to prove that they are free from communicable and infectious diseases. Examinations typically include:

  • HIV and AIDS screening
  • Pulmonary tuberculosis
  • Leprosy
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C

Prevention of tuberculosis

Tuberculosis can be subdivided into active and latent. As such, one important aspect of tuberculosis prevention is to stop latent TB infection from progressing to active TB disease.Generally speaking, a large proportion of persons with latent TB infection never develop TB disease. Only about 5 to 10% of the infected will develop the disease at different times during their lives. 

Some may develop it soon (within weeks) upon infection before their immune system can fight the bacteria, while others may get sick years later when their immune system turns weak. All in all, those with weaker immune systems are at high risk for developing TB, such as HIV patients, babies, and young children, and those who were not treated properly for TB in the past.

Another important aspect of tuberculosis prevention is vaccination. You may want to get your little ones vaccinated, particularly because of the high-risk TB poses to them, and the fact that the vaccine works well in children. 

Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) is currently the only effective tuberculosis vaccine in common use. Pharmaceutical companies have in recent years been developing a new recombinant vaccine, such as VPM1002, M72/ASO1E, and H56:IC31, to replace BCG, or to invent booster vaccines to supplement the existing BCG vaccine and improve its effectiveness.

Treatment of tuberculosis

All UAE residents, including their first-degree relatives, such as parents, spouses, or offsprings, are eligible for free TB treatment at any designated treatment centers, according to the international TB treatment protocol.

Latent TB patients that are at risk of developing active TB need to take the full course of prescribed medicine to fully recover. Since there are fewer bacteria in their bodies, treatment for latent TB infection (LTBI) is considered easier than treatment for active TB.

Treatment options recommended for LTBI, include: 

  • 6-months of isoniazid, or 9-months of isoniazid, or a 
  • 3-month regimen of weekly rifapentine plus isoniazid, or 
  • 3–4 months of isoniazid plus rifampicin, or 
  • 3–4 months of rifampicin alone.

In cases of active TB, patients are rendered stable and non-infectious within four weeks of treatment but will be kept in isolation until proven infection-free; while others have to report for periodic screening and medication. It is of the essence that patients finish their medicine and take the drugs exactly as prescribed so that they will not become sick again and the TB bacteria will not become resistant to the drugs.

(Take note: For information and further guidance, you are encouraged to seek medical advice on the type of medication to take to treat TB in the UAE.)

Comprehensive protection from tuberculosis

As much as we want to prevent tuberculosis, it can still be difficult to accomplish even with the vaccination. After all, it is a highly contagious disease that transmits through microscopic droplets released into the air and in places of mass gatherings. As such, it is crucial that you secure suitable health insurance to protect you and your loved ones, so that you won’t be caught off guard and face hefty medical fees for treating TB– or any other disease, for that matter.

With Pacific Prime Dubai, you are guaranteed to receive excellence every step of the way when it comes to receiving impartial advice and a satisfying comparison of all your health insurance plan options in Dubai and the UAE. A number of plans are available, such as:

Leveraging our years of experience and extensive knowledge, our team of experts at Pacific Prime Dubai is always on hand to answer your questions. Get your free quote today!

Get a Quote banner

Content Creator at Pacific Prime Dubai
Anthony Chan is a content writer at Pacific Prime. He’s responsible for writing, translating, and editing articles, guides, infographics, leaflets, as well as other resources for Pacific Prime and Kwiksure.

When he’s not working, he’s usually on the hunt for great restaurants, playing badminton, and writing screenplays.